I would like to start by thanking you all for the incredible resilience you have shown in these recent weeks.
It was announced this week that Gary Hoffman has been named as the new chairman of the Premier League. Gary has been involved in football for a long time, having held positions at Barclays and Visa as well as chairing the Football Foundation. Many of us know him well and look forward to working with him when he starts his role on 1 June, succeeding interim chair Claudia Arney.
You may also have seen this week that the French government has taken the decision to cancel the 2019-20 sporting season, awarding Paris Saint-Germain the Ligue 1 title. This news comes amidst ongoing speculation around the German and Spanish leagues, and how or when they might continue.
It is no secret that domestically, a huge amount of work is taking place to assess whether a restart to the English season will be possible. Whilst we would all like to see football return in the coming weeks, the health of our communities and the protection of the NHS must remain our priority and we will continue to be led by Government advice as we work together with stakeholders from across the game to assess any potential restart.
The Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant financial impact on all sectors of society and sadly football is one of many sports to have been affected as a consequence. I want to assure you that we are committed to supporting the game as a whole through this crisis; especially the lower echelons, where the impact has been felt most acutely.
We remain in contact with colleagues and stakeholders from across both the national and professional game and will continue to work together to offer support as we look to navigate our way through this difficult period.
So far this has taken a host of different forms from advancing payments due, to giving extensive advisory support, to unlocking money from Government and other football stakeholders. We have other ideas in the pipeline such as an initiative with the Football Foundation that we will announce next week.
Our executive team has been building out different scenarios that we might potentially face as a result of the pandemic. The reality is that we just don’t know how things are going to pan out, but with social distancing in place for some time to come we do face substantial changes to the whole football ecosystem. For example it’s hard to foresee crowds of fans – who are the lifeblood of the game – returning to matches any time soon.
I believe that the whole organisation has adapted well to cut expenditure for the remainder of this season. Now, we have to plan for next season and those after it. Due to the uncertainty, the only option is to introduce a budget cut based on potential losses of revenue which could materialise. If they don’t, then of course we can build the budgets back up. The opposite approach is not an option as once the money is spent, it cannot be recovered.
Having worked through the numbers with Mark and the executive team, the Board has agreed that a sensible cut to the annual budget is £75m. In a worst-case scenario, this would be necessary for the next four years to offset a £300m deficit. Clearly that will impact many of our plans as every area of the game will be touched and projects that we all value will be affected. There is no other way and I ask for all of you to help us to build this revised plan.
We will share with you as much as we are able to at the Council meeting on 21 May.
I can assure you that we will weather this storm and emerge from this crisis, as a more focused and even more effective organisation.
I thank you all for your continued understanding.
Take care and enjoy your weekend.